Some months back, a flyer announcing the first annual Missouri Liar’s Contest appeared at our writer’s critique group. I checked the requirements: Craft a story that isn’t totally true of ten minutes or less and submit it in an MP-3 file or a video. After rummaging through my pile of semi-finished short pieces, I found one that was just the ticket.
As soon as I started into the verbal-only delivery, major rewrite was required. Narrative and dialogue, for instance, don’t work the same way on a page as into a microphone. The ten-minute requirement. Thirteen was comfortable. Using the recording ap on my Apple, I could record a scene, then pause and catch my breath. Then the scenes could be pasted together. When I finished, I had a nine minute, fifty-eight second file. I submitted it.
Then, Holy Crap! I was one of ten finalists. With major new worries.
The final was a live lie-off. I had worked like the dickens to shoehorn the tale into a ten-minute box. Now I had to deliver it live with no time for pauses to catch a breath, no time for a few hems and I wonder-what-comes nexts. I knew I’d never be able to pull the whole thing from memory in ten minutes, so I took a written copy of my story to the microphone. Hey, I’m a hard-core wanna-be writer, but not even soft-core wanna-be storyteller. And it wasn’t against the rules. Next year, it probably will be. Maybe it will be called the Zerr No Friggle-frapping Script Rule.
Of course, all the other contestants delivered from memory. Story telling, not story reading.
I didn’t win any of the top three spots.
But what I did win was a front-row seat to nine other majorly good prevarications. And I won an appreciation for that particular way to tell one.
I am halfway thinking about giving it another go next year.
If I do, I know I will have to spend a lot of thought and effort on the writing part. One thing I’ve been thinking about is plotting the tale in very distinct scenes, and, in the last sentence of one scene, planting a segue into the next. Anyway, an interesting challenge.
Stories can be told in many ways, but story telling is deeply rooted in human history. There are antediluvian strands in our DNA. As such, it is to be revered
I learned a lot from the experience.
In the mean time, I remain the tenth best liar in the Show-me State. And that’s the truth.